Parental Kidnapping Laws in Florida
If you’re going through a divorce or separation and there are children involved, you may be worried about your ex eventually trying to leave with your children. While it’s not necessarily an everyday occurrence, it can happen. It’s important to understand the laws in place to help prevent parental abductions. There are federal and state laws in effect that help protect parents. If you are concerned about your ex violating a custody order or abducting your children, it’s imperative to speak with a Boca Raton child custody and parenting plan attorney as soon as possible.
Federal Laws on Parental Kidnapping
There are several federal laws that deal with parental kidnapping. The first is the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act (PKPA), which helps resolve conflicts regarding jurisdiction, specifically those that involve crossing state lines.
There is also the International Child Abduction Remedies Act (ICARA) that handles cases involving international parental kidnapping. It is a federal crime to remove a child who is younger than 16 years of age from the country with the intention of obstructing someone else’s parental rights, provided he or she has been in the United States.
Kidnapping Laws in Florida
There are federal laws addressing parental kidnapping, and Florida also addresses kidnapping and custody offenses under Florida Statutes §787.03. This says that kidnapping is when someone forcibly or secretly threatens or acts against someone else by imprisoning, abducting, or confining that person against their will. It has to be done with no legal authority, and with an intent to:
- Terrorize them or inflict bodily harm;
- Enable or commit a felony;
- Hold them hostage or demand a ransom; or
- Interfere with political function or government performance, which includes confining a child under the age of 13 with no parental or guardian consent.
If someone is charged with kidnapping, it’s a first-degree felony in Florida, which carries a hefty prison sentence. This can be more severe in the event there is an allegation of child abuse.
When is It Parental Kidnapping?
When you’re going through a divorce, it’s understandable that you want to know at what point in the process is it considered child kidnapping if one partner removes the children. A parent can only be convicted of parental kidnapping if a child custody suit or divorce has been filed. Prior to that, a parent has his or her own rights because they have not been limited by a court order yet. These rights are primarily limited to the biological parents, or whoever has legal custody. If someone wants to assert parental rights who isn’t the biological parent or legal guardian, then they are required to first petition the court to seek these rights.
Contact a Florida Child Custody Attorney
If you have concerns or questions about parental kidnapping, it’s important to speak with a Boca Raton child custody attorney. At the Law Offices of Schwartz | White, we have years of experience handling family law matters, including custody disputes. Contact our office today to schedule an initial consultation. Let one of our skilled attorneys answer all your questions.